Monthly Archives: August 2013


Staples is one of my favorite stores. I know, writer—office supply store. Who’s surprised? I was looking at all the incarnations of office supplies and it brought to mind the things you can do with them that aren’t related to back-to-school.

Here are some things I came up with.

Plastic cases for three X five cards. Sticking either Post-it notes or three X five cards in them and clip a pen to the top. Stick it in the car or purse and the notes stay clean and unmolested, so you’re always have note-making material. I gave my husband one and he uses it all the time.

Pencil cases—the short skinny kind. You can put all sorts of things in them that aren’t pencils. I have fingernail files and other long manicure items in one. Makeup brushes fit in nicely. Make-up items like mascara, lipstick, chap-stick, or anything in a tube for your purse. They work great for a first aid kit.

Pencil cases—the long skinny kind. These are essential for travel. Great for curling irons, hair brushes, anything long and skinny you don’t want mingling with the rest of the stuff in your suitcase.

Pencil cases—the square kind. Everything. No really. I have sewing stuff in a ton of them. You can label the end and everything is right at hand. They’re great for seeds and plant labels. If you have a hobby that involves small items they’re essential. Makeup when you travel doesn’t get crushed. Those pretty soft carriers are…pretty, but they don’t have hard sides to protect lotions and tubes.

Pencil cases that fit in a three-ring notebook. These are great for putting editing supplies in and sticking them in your purse or backpack. That way you always have the supplies you need to edit while you wait for someone. They can double as a first aid kit or to hold coupons.

Wire locker dividers. The ones shaped like an upside down flat-bottomed, “U”. I have a trash can on top and a recycle/shred can underneath. They’re fairly sturdy, but without the sides of a locker to support them I wouldn’t put anything like a printer on one. (Note: at the kitchen store, they have plate platforms that are sturdy enough for a printer. I have my laptop on one.)

Back in the commercial, area they have display supplies. I have a stand that has two face-outs on it. On the top I have my calendar. It holds it open to the week and I can see it when I sit down. Very handy when I remember to turn the page to the correct week. On the bottom face-out, I have Post-its. I can put a notebook or other reference in it if I need to.

What do you use for a different purpose than it was intended for?


Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Idaho


“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.” –Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

I have to admit this blog post is of a self-serving nature. My goal is to share with you a couple of books or phrases that have captured my attention and left a lasting impression on me. In return, I’m hoping you will share some of your favorites with me.

One of the most compelling non-fiction books I’ve read is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Most people are probably already familiar with the works of this amazing WWII concentration camp survivor. In college I had to read this book and write a paper on it. I’ve held on to it ever since. I’ve gone back and skimmed through it countless times over the last twenty years. The dog-eared pages are yellowed. Sticky notes peek out from all directions. Multi-colored highlights abound from the pages as I found different passages spoke to me depending on the time in my life that I was reading it. It even smells a little dusty. At this point it’s become more of an old friend than a book.

The next book wasn’t a particularly profound read but more of a fun one. However, there was one passage in the book that grabbed my attention enough to warrant jotting it down. The book is Shannon Hale’s Austenland and the passage reads, “Why was the judgment of the disapproving so valuable? Who said their good opinions tended to be any more rational than those of generally pleasant people?” This captured my attention because it made me realize how much credence I sometimes put into the opinions of people who are inherently difficult to please.

Now that I’m done baring my soul (what a book lover won’t do for a few good recommendations), I’d love to hear your favorite books or passages. Maybe it’s completely different from these. It could be one that always makes you smile, motivates you or just makes you think.


Posted by on August 27, 2013 in books, inspiration, Psychology, reading


Blogging Weekly

My publisher has a blog called Marketing Monday, and they post ways to market. Last week the suggestion was to create a blog by picking a subject, any subject, and posting once a week.

After researching various subjects, I decided on Rodeo Cohorts. One of the definitions of cohort is a companion or associate. That is what the equine contestants in rodeo are, companions and associates. I’m going to spotlight a different horse each week, including barrel, rope and dogging horses along with bareback and saddle broncs. I might even throw in some specialty acts and an occasional bull or two. These are the equine personalities who make rodeo such an amazing sport, and many have fascinating stories.

To start this off with a bang, I’m highlighting Gills Bay Boy, better known as Scamper. Scamper accomplished what no other barrel horse has come near to doing. He and his owner, Charmayne James, won ten Women’s Pro Rodeo Association World Titles in a row between 1984 and 1993.

Charmayne and her father bought the AQHA gelding from a feedlot when he was a six year old, and she was just twelve. Two years later they qualified for the National Finals Rodeo. They went on to win the NFR that year along with the WPRA World Championship and the WPRA Rookie of the Year.


One of his most amazing runs came during the 1985 NFR. As they came down the alley to enter the arena, Scamper’s bridle broke. He ran the pattern on his own and won the round. In 1986 the pair won money in all ten rounds at the NFR, a feat only three other riders have accomplished.

Scamper ended up with the enviable record of ten WPRA titles, six NFR titles and ten RodeoHouston titles, along with many other circuit finals and major rodeo championships. He carried Charmayne to more than one million of her $1,842,506 lifetime earnings. He was retired after the 1994 season and was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1996.

Because he is a gelding and cannot reproduce, James made the decision to clone Scamper. The animal genetics corporation Viagen performed the cloning, and the ensuing foal, nicknamed Clayton, was born in 2006, kept a stallion and now stands at stud.

Scamper died at the age of thirty-five on July 4, 2012 at the age of 35. James said he enjoyed good health to the end.

“He’s one in a million. He’s a miracle…I doubt there will ever be another horse like him.”

Charmayne James, describing Scamper, 1989

I was only fortunate enough to be able to watch Scamper run in person once, but I watched on TV many times. He was one of a kind.

I’m about four weeks into my blog and have had some new readers. Time will tell if it gathers in readers for my book. What ideas do you have for a weekly blog?


Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Idaho


Los Angeles Times, Reflections

I spent most of my summer in Inglewood, California.  I am back in Boise.  Deep, deep sigh of contentment.  As always, arriving at the Boise airport is a magical experience.  The tension gripping my body evaporates and a sense of peace settles over me.

My travel experience made me wonder about how the setting of your story plays an important role.  Where someone lives impacts their lives.  Having a story set in Los Angeles vs. Boise would make a difference in my story.

How does setting affect your characters’ lives?

Here’s an example.  It would be unusual to live in Boise, but work in Twin Falls.  That’s an hour and a half commute.  We, Idahoans, don’t tend to work that far from home.  Now, if I lived in Los Angeles, an hour and a half commute wouldn’t be unacceptable.  Do you see how setting might impact your characters?

Let’s do one of those annoying writing exercises.  Change the location of your current WIP and see what differences that would make in your characters’ lives.  How would it change who they are?

Let me know what discoveries you are able to make about your characters through this activity.


Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Idaho


A Magical Moment

This past weekend, Peter and I drove to Seattle to see Josie, our oldest grandchild, in a play. The drive is eight solid hours. We left on Friday morning and arrived in Seattle in time to fight Friday night traffic made worse by construction and hotel personnel who gave us wrong directions. Our hotel, the only one where Peter could use hotel points, was not at all what we expected. Grumble. Grumble.

Later, we were able to make it to our dinner reservations and had a wonderful seafood dinner at Etta’s, by Pike’s Market. Nice.
Saturday morning we had to walk three blocks through spitting rain for a Starbucks coffee because in the hotel dining room, which appeared half-empty to us, there was a twenty-minute wait for food. Was that okay? we were asked. No, it was not.

The rain left and we had a rare, sparkling day during which we could walk around. First, we had to park our car. We found the perfect lot–close to shopping, close to the market. $8.00 was posted. For a few hours, we thought. But we soon learned by reading the small print, the price was $8.00 every thirty minutes!!! An enterprising young man directed the crowd of grumbling people to a lot a block and a half away where you could pay $8.00 for three hours, plus tips to him and his fellow enterprising worker.

We had fun walking around and enjoying the cooler air. After the allotted three hours, we picked up our car and headed out of the city to a new hotel closer to where Josie was performing. The major highway one would normally take to the new location was closed, due to construction. Fortunately, a front desk clerk at the hotel, knew back roads to get to our new location plus how to get from the new hotel to the theater where Josie was performing.

After an early dinner, we headed out to the theater. The performance was at 7:30 and we were due to arrive at 7:00 PM. We did not want to be late. We pulled out the directions for back roads and followed them carefully– until we reached a sign that said, Summer Festival. Road Closed Ahead. Grumble. Grumble.

We arrived at the theater just after 7 PM, where we met with family. Nice.

Josie Theater

Two plays were being performed. We watched the first one, anxiously waiting for the moment when our star would be on stage. Josie has always had a beautiful voice (not from me!) but has been shy about performing. At 14, she’s found a niche where she can act and sing and not worry about the teasing she often gets about being so small. (She was a 2 lb. preemie and is still small – perfectly proportioned but small).

Our anticipation built as intermission came and went. Then, there she was, a beauty playing Beauty in Beauty and the Beast. The lines were written in verse and sometimes it was hard to hear the kids. But Josie’s voice rang out true and clear, her face showing the emotions of the moment. Truly, a star was born. Our star. And all the difficulty of getting there, and knowing we’d have to get up and drive eight hours to get back home, meant nothing as we greeted her at the end of the show with hugs and tears and flowers.


Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Idaho


Insignificance & Inspiration

ireland-mapAs negative as the the first word in the title may sound, this is a positive blog! I returned from vacation this week, having visited Ireland and Scotland. In Ireland, we rented a car and made a circuit from the eastern coast at the capitol city of Dublin and drove clockwise around the country before ending up in Belfast. We visited Waterford, Cobh, Killarney, Galway, Inis Mor (largest of the Aran Islands), Sligo, Donegal, Derry, as well as driving through many smaller towns.

We all know the U.S., as a nation, is young in comparison to other countries. But, I was struck by the scope of the wonders of Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher (five miles along the coast) in County Clare rise up from the ocean and take one’s breath away.

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

When standing at the top of one, you can look out across the sea and envision earlier times. Early people would use currachs, and those small boats would buck the waves, while the people would look up at the cliffs and hope they wouldn’t be dashed against them in the tides.

photo 4As we headed out of the Republic of Ireland north to the UK part of Ireland in County Antrim, we traveled the Giant’s Causeway. The scientific explanation is a series of huge basalt columns formed from a volcanic eruption. Myth states that the Giant Finn MacCool built a walkway to get to Scotland for a battle. I prefer the myth because to see these “steps” plunges me back to that time. photo 1photo 3 photo 2I can see Finn taking

“giant” steps on each flat surface.

I’ve chosen only two of the natural wonders of Ireland to put into perspective how insignificant one feels when seeing such magnificence for the first time. But, rather than feeling diminished, I feel inspired. What stories these rocks could tell; what things they’ve witnessed over the centuries!

We spoke with locals, dined at pubs, and had an unforgettable journey in so many ways. I came back refreshed and energized, eager to tell stories in my voice.

Oh, and if you can see the tiny L-shaped island at the very top northern part of the map, it is Rathlin Island. Rathlin Island is in the very first book I attempted, a historical set in 1560. My wonderful son and daughter-in-law surprised me with a ferry trip to visit it. The island is only 7 miles total in size, so we took a tour bus around it and I could clearly envision where my hero and heroine would camp, where the outlawed druids had hidden from persecution, and from which coast the h/h could set out to Scotland. So excited, I might go back to that book and rewrite it. Trust me, as the first one I wrote, it sorely needs it!


Posted by on August 8, 2013 in inspiration, travel


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Are You Ready for Indie Publishing, Part II

A Haunting in Trillium Falls_Mary Vine.jpgYou can find Are You Ready For Indie Publishing, Part 1 here:

I’ve written and edited a book, asked other writers to read it and then I made changes. So, now I’m ready to start the steps to indie publishing. Yes, I wallowed with whether I should try to submit this baby to a publisher, but only sent it to one who rejected it. After some disappointment, I reminded myself that with three published books to my credit, this is the one I’d chosen to branch out with.

To be sure, I talked with other authors about the self-pub business. Many found success and encouraged me to do the same. An indie author referred me to Indieromanceink, an email loop for those who are, or plan to be, an indie author. It is a large group of writers that ask questions, or answer them, and there’s quite a bit of knowledge to be gained from this site.

An incredible amount of work to self-publish is necessary and it can be downright scary. First, you need to hire an editor to do a line-by-line edit, especially for a first time author. Some suggest two editors. It takes hours of time to read about marketing to prepare for launching out on your own.

There are two things I just don’t know how to do, and don’t have the time or inclination to learn. Number one is: Cover art. There are many indie writers out there doing it all, including the cover art and some a very eye-catching. I am lucky to have a designer, graphic production, multimedia, digital artist guy in the family to do mine.

Number two is to publish the e-book and send it to various outlets. I chose Wildflowers Books, a division of The Wild Rose Press to self-publish and distribute my book, A Haunting in Trillium Falls. The cost totaled $199 and the package includes a digital ISBN, conversion of the book into various formats, and distribution to the following retailers and partners:
Amazon Kindle
All Romance
iTunes (iBookstore)
Barnes & Noble Nook
Overdrive Content Reserve (distributes to libraries and various retailers)

Whether you are published first or not, marketing your book(s) takes time and scheduling time to write is the one thing most authors struggle with. It’s like going to school to be a special education teacher and when you get the job find out you are overwhelmed with so much paperwork that you have little time to work with the students that fascinate you so much. Yet, going the indie route with an e-mail loop has helped me learn volumes about the book publishing business which seems to change every day. And to top it off, you will earn more money on your own for that book you’ve created after hours of hard work.


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